TWO drainage experts have been at loggerheads over whether a plan to build houses in Menston could increase the risk of flooding there.

The plan was narrowly approved at a heated meeting of Bradford Council's Regulatory and Appeals Committee at City Hall yesterday.

Chartford Developments had applied to build 12 family homes on a green field in Bingley Road, Menston.

But locals were concerned at the cumulative effect of the plan on drainage in the area, especially as developer Taylor Wimpey intends to build more than 130 homes on land further along the same road.

Outline permission has already been granted for the Taylor Wimpey scheme and a full application will be considered soon, the meeting heard.

Permission has also been granted for a separate development of 173 homes on nearby Derry Hill.

Drainage expert Professor David Rhodes, who was opposing Chartford's development, spoke about his concerns over ground water emergence.

But the Council's own drainage manager, Tony Poole, said the site was in the lowest flood risk area, 'flood zone one'.

He told the meeting he had decades of experience of flooding problems in the district.

He added: "In terms of Menston, in this area of Menston I do not know of one property which has actually been flooded."

Committee chairman Councillor David Warburton said last Friday the district had experienced "an exceptional downpour" and asked both men whether this site had become waterlogged as a result.

Mr Poole said: "There were no signs of anything like that."

But Prof Rhodes said any flooding on the site would be caused by more sustained rainfall, not sudden downpours.

He said: "It's only when there's prolonged rainfall. The water comes from Ilkley Moor."

Committee member Councillor Malcolm Sykes said he had hoped for a drainage expert who could speak completely independently, to settle the matter.

He said: "I'm still stuck between a rock and a hard place here, in terms of understanding who's right and who's wrong."

The plan was eventually put to the vote, and approved by a whisker.

Councillors Abid Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central), David Warburton (Lab, Wyke), Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong) and Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East) voted in favour of the plan, and Councillors Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley), Malcolm Sykes (Con, Thornton and Allerton) and Jackie Whiteley (Con, Wharfedale) voted against it.